This document provides some basic guidelines for individuals who are considering meeting other practitioners including other members of the Covenant of Hekate for the first time.
It is only natural to want to meet with, share and sometimes practice with others who have similar beliefs and philosophies to you so as part of our respective paths, sooner or later, we might want to meet with other people. Some people find this to be a very difficult thing to do and may be nervous about meeting strangers and sharing in what you hold sacred; your spiritual beliefs and practices.
Firstly and most importantly, do your research first and know what you are looking for. Group leaders are under no obligation to offer you a place in their groups and I don’t know anyone worthwhile who would bother taking on a new member who comes knocking without a clue of what they want. It is essential that what you want matches with what the group is able to offer and if it doesn’t YOU are able to adapt within the boundaries of what you need, to what the group or teacher is offering. Think of it like enrolling on a course or taking a job, you are not going to apply to do a course in herbalism when what you want to do is learn to drive a car. Conversely, this means that no matter how lovely and amazing a group may be, they might also not be the right group for you, so say no if it is not a fit!
Prepare a list of questions and be prepared to answer questions you are asked. BUT be sensible, always err on the side of caution in the same way you would do for a blind date. Do not give away all your personal information / details and life story on the first meeting!
Be prepared to contribute. Different teachers and different groups will expect different things from you. Some traditions frown on money being exchanged but for others it is a standard part of the course that you will be expected to pay something yearly or monthly towards membership / cost of what you are given access to. Other teachers might expect you to turn up early and help with cooking food or cleaning, or otherwise bringing along food / drinks / offerings to gatherings or making voluntary temple donations. If they do ask for temple donations, ask what the recommended donation is. Clarify what will be expected from you right from the start and decide if it is fair. If you don’t feel comfortable with what is expected, research and ask around and if you don’t want to go ahead then it is not the group for you.
Be clear on what the boundaries are and what you feel comfortable with. Some traditions, including initiatory Wicca (for example) might expect you to work in the nude. Some use forms of what might be considered bondage and some groups expect you to wear a uniform robe or a combination of the aforementioned. The group might gather at night outdoors. They might be fond of camping or doing ceremonies in high places involving rock climbing (I recently attended a ceremony which was a combination of all these, it was great, but …!) Find out as much as you can, think it through carefully and make sure you are able and comfortable with the nature of the group!
You should not be expected to sexually engage with your teacher or your group as part of the group within a CoH Sanctuary. However, close and loving relationships between members of a spiritual group is to be expected and normal, as people who come together to share in their beliefs and practices will have shared visions between individuals. However, if you get involved with another member of the group or your teacher, it should be consensual and moreover you and your partner should ensure that your relationship will not negatively impact on one another or the group as a whole.
When going to meet strangers for the first time, arrange to meet in a public place and make sure someone knows where you have gone. Commonsense is essential, so don’t take chances.
Part of your research into what you want / expect from a group should involve learning more about the practices you are interested in. If a particular practice you hope to learn about with the teacher or group is part of an established tradition, learn as much as you can about that before contacting teachers / groups. If a tradition requires lineage you will need to ask the teacher about it and you will need to make general enquiries in the community to find out the credentials of the group or teacher. This is a minefield. Good luck, but remember: Question everything you are told and trust your instincts.
Finally, the most essential bit of advice I am able to give anyone embarking on the journey of finding a teacher or a group and indeed working towards deepening their knowledge and experience of the practices they are interested in, is this:
PERSONAL responsibility is key. You have to be able to take full responsibility for your own actions at all times and the best way of doing that is to learn as much as you can and question everything you are told. If you make a mistake, learn from it and move on. Finding a suitable group / teacher is very much like finding a life partner or best friend sometimes it works for life, sometimes it works for a season, but if you approach it with commonsense you can learn from it and hopefully come away with a positive, life changing experience.
Remember also that there are members from all kinds of traditions in the CoH, so if you are in doubt about something, you can use this – our private forum – to ask for help!